Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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Operational Training Units


No 41 Operational Training Unit

This was formed from the Training Squadron of No 1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum on 20 September 1941 within No 70 Group to train tactical reconnaissance pilots using Lysanders and Tomahawks.  In March 1942 the Lysanders were retired and the following month Mustangs arrived to supplement the Tomahawks.  November 1942 saw the unit move to Hawarden and in November 1943 it was transferred to No 9 Group.  On 15 September 1944 it was transferred to No 12 Group, by which time it was using Hurricanes, Spitfires, Masters Harvards, Martinets, Proctors and a Dominie. 

On 1 February 1945 the unit was split into two with No 41 OTU Day Fighter Wing moving to Poulton, where it was redesignated No 58 OTU on 12 March, whilst the Hawarden element became No 41 OTU Fighter Reconnaissance Wing, moving to Chilbolton on 23 March, where it disbanded on 26 April 1945 its tasking being absorbed by No 61 OTU.

Officers Commanding: -

xx xxx 1944                         Gp Capt H V Alloway

Codes used: -

6R

Allocated but not used

Aircraft & Markings


No 42 Operational Training Unit

This was formed from an element of No 6 OTU at Andover on 18 July 1941 within No 70 Group, to convert Lysander pilots to Blenheims in anticipation of the introduction of the Bisley, which was cancelled.  In October 1942 the unit moved to Ashbourne, where it continued training Blenheims pilots until May 1943 when it it began training glider tug pilots for squadrons in No 38 Wing (later No 38 Group).   For this role it used Whitleys, the Blenheims leaving in July 1943, and later Albemarles.  It was transferred to No 38 Group on 1 November 1943 and four of its aircraft actually took part in the D-Day landings.  The unit disbanded on 20 March 1945 and its tasking was transferred to No 81 OTU.

Aircraft & Markings


No 43 Operational Training Unit

This was formed from No 1424 Flight at Larkhill on 1 October 1942 within No 70 Group to train Auster AOP pilots and observers.  It operated a variety of light aircraft in this role, moving to Old Sarum on 19 November 1942, Oatlands Hill on 17 February 1944 and finally Andover on 10 August 1944.  In February 1945, it formed a Helicopter Training Flight using Hoverfly Is which lasted until 16 January 1946.  Control was passed to No 12 Group on 10 July 1946 and it finally disbanded by being redesignated No 227 OCU on 7 May 1947.

Codes used: -

BD

xxx 1943 - May 1947

PF

xxx 1943 - May 1947

Aircraft & Markings


No 51 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Debden on 26 July 1941 within No 81 Group to train night fighter crews including some destined for Turbinlites operations.  As such it was equipped with Blenheims and Havocs, which it took to Cranfield on 17 August.  In May 1942 its No 2 (Intruder) Squadron was transferred to No 60 OTU, received some Beauforts in June and then in August, Beaufighters.  No 4 (Beaufighter) Squadron was transferred from No 60 OTU in September when it was passed over to Coastal Command control.

In early 1943 the unit began training USAAF crews and in April it was transferred to No 9 Group.  May saw the arrival of some Mosquitoes but again this intruder training was transferred to No 60 OTU.  From 17 September the Advanced Training Squadron, at Twinwood Farm, was given the designation No 551 Squadron.  Wellingtons were added to the strength in March 1944 to provide training for radar operators and from June the Beaufighters began to be replaced by Mosquitoes with the unit finally disbanding on 14 June 1945.

Officers Commanding: -

xx Dec 1943                           Gp Capt R K Hamblin

Codes used: -

PF

Jul 1941 - xxx 1942

Aircraft & Markings


No 52 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Debden on 25 March 1941 within No 81 Group to train day fighter pilots using Hurricanes.  In August it moved to Aston Down and the following month began converting to Spitfires.  From 15 January 1943 the half of the unit located at Charmy Down was redesignated as the Fighter Leaders School and in April it was transferred to No 9 Group control.  In August 1943, the Fighter Leaders School returned to Aston Down at which point No 52 OTU was officially reduced to half OTU status.  Further redesignations followed, firstly as No 52 OTU (FLS) in September and then No 52 OTU (Fighter Command School of Tactics) in October and finally on 25 January 1944 the unit lost the OTU title altogether when it became simply the Fighter Leaders School again.

Codes used: -

NS

xxx xxxx - Aug 1943

GK

Allocated and probably used

TJ

Allocated but not used?

OQ

xxx xxxx - Aug 1943

Aircraft & Markings


No 53 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Heston on 18 February 1941 within No 81 Group to train Spitfire pilots for Fighter Command.  In June 'B' Flight moved to Llandow, followed by the rest of the OTU, except 'A' and 'C' Flights, on 1 July.  The two flights left at Heston forming the basis of No 61 OTU.  In April 1943 control was transferred to No 9 Group and the following month it re-located again, this time to Kirton-in-Lindsey, where it took over Hibaldstow as its satellite.  In early 1944 various units destined for operations on mainland Europe following the invasion began arriving at Kirton Lindsey and Hibaldstow as lodger units.  It finally disbanded on 15 May 1945, an Air Crew Holding Unit being formed in its place to handle those pilots made redundant.

In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No's 553 and 554 Squadron and would have operated from Church Fenton.

Officers Commanding: -

xx Mar 1943                         Wg Cdr P H Hamley

18 May 1943                        Gp Capt G C Tomlinson

24 Nov 1943                        Gp Capt J G Hawtrey

18 Jan 1945                         Gp Capt M H Rhys

Codes used: -

KU

Feb 1941 - xxx xxxx

MV

Feb 1941 - May 1945

OB

Allocated but not used?

QG

xxx 1943 - May 1945

Aircraft & Markings


No 54 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Church Fenton on 25 November 1940 within No 12 Group to train night fighter crews for Fighter Command.  Equipped with Blenheims, and Defiants as its main equipment, it was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December 1940.  In June 1941 the Defiants were transferred to No 60 OTU and No 54 concentrated on twin engine training.  The unit moved to Charterhall in May 1942, Beaufighters having replaced the Blenheims in February.  On 20 April 1943, control was passed to No 9 Group and May 1944 saw the arrival of some Mosquitoes and the Beaufort radar trainers were gradually replaced by Wellingtons.  By July 1945 the last Beaufighter had left and in November the unit moved to East Moor and back to No 12 Group.  Its final move came in June 1946 when it transferred to Leeming, where on 1 May 1947 it merged with No 13 OTU to form No 228 OCU.

Codes used: -

BF

Dec 1940 - xxx 1943

LX

xxx 1944 - xxx 1945

ST

May 1942 - May 1945

YX

xxx 1942 - May 1947

Aircraft & Markings


No 55 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Aston Down from No 5 OTU on 1 November 1940 within No 10 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command, using Hurricanes, Blenheims, Defiants and Masters.  In December the Blenheims and Defiant were transferred to No 54 OTU and at the end of that month it was transferred to the control of No 81 Group.  In February 1941 a flight moved to Usworth, to be followed by the rest of the unit on 14 March.  In April 1942 it moved to Annan and a year later was transferred to No 9 Group.  By early 1944 it was acting as a Day Pilot Holding Pool and on 26 January it was disbanded by being redesignated No 4 Tactical Exercise Unit.

In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 555 Squadron to operate from Turnhouse, but this was later modified to forming No's 555 and 554 Squadrons to operate from Ouston.

The unit reformed on 18 December 1944, again at Aston Down in No 12 Group by redesignating No 3 Tactical Exercise Unit.  Equipped with over a hundred Typhoons it acted as a ground attack training unit until disbanding on 14 June 1945.

Codes used: -

UW

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

EH

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

PA

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

ZX

Nov 1940 - Jan 1944?,  Dec 1944 - Jun 1945?

Aircraft & Markings


No 56 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Sutton Bridge by redesignating No 6 OTU on 1 November 1940 within No 81 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command, using Hurricanes.  In March 1942 it moved to Tealing, taking over Kinnell as a satellite, and in April 1943 was passed to the control of No 9 Group.  It disbanded on 5 October 1943 when it was redesignated No 1 Combat Training Wing (later changed to No 1 Tactical Exercise Unit).  In the event of a German invasion the OTU's 'E' and 'F' Flights would have become No 556 Squadron to operate within the Peterhead Sector.

Officers Commanding: -

 1 Nov 1940                        Wg Cdr J H Edwardes-Jones

xx xxx 1941                         Gp Capt B B Caswell

10 Jun 1941                        Gp Capt F O Soden

15 Sep 1941                       Wg Cdr/Gp Capt I A Bertram

23 Apr 1942                       Gp Capt F H Woolliams

The unit reformed on 15 December 1944 at Milfield in No 12 Group, equipped with both Typhoon and Tempest Vs until disbanding on 14 February 1946.

Codes used: -

FE

Nov 1940 - Oct 1943?, Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

GF

Nov 1940 - Oct 1943?, Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

HQ

Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

OD

Dec 1944 - Feb 1946

Aircraft & Markings


No 57 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Hawarden from No 7 OTU on 1 November 1940 within No 10 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command using Spitfires and Masters.  It was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December 1940 and from 10 November 1942 operated from Eshott before passing to the control of No 9 Group on 20 April 1943.  A further transfer of control to No 12 Group occurred on 15 September 1944 and it finally disbanded on 6 June 1945.

Codes used: -

JZ

Dec 1940 - Jun 1945

LV

Dec 1940 - Jun 1945

PW

xxx xxxx - Jun 1945

XO

Dec 1940 - Jun 1945

Aircraft & Markings


No 58 Operational Training Unit

This unit began to form at Grangemouth on 21 October 1940 within No 10 Group to train night fighter crews with, initially, many of the functions and services were provided by No 614 Squadron which was located at Grangemouth.  On 7 November control of the fledgling OTU was transferred to No 13 Group, who considered Grangemouth unsuitable, but the alternative of Perth was found to be even less suitable.  The unit was informed on 21 November that it would become a day fighter OTU instead of a night fighter unit.  The first pupil pilots were posted in on 23 December in readiness for training to begin in the New Year, but the first Spitfires didn't arrive until 31 December.  Course No 1 officially began on 1 January 1941 comprising three officers and 27 sergeants but the unit only possessed four Spitfires and four Masters at this point.  It was transferred to No 81 Group on 2 January effective from 31 December 1940, continuing to expand to its full establishment but it was June 1941 before the OTU was working at it full capacity.

Until 20 March 1942 it operated purely from Grangemouth but on that date a new satellite was opened at Balado Bridge, which was then used for the bulk of the flying training.  On 15 April 1943 control was transferred to No 9 Group on the disbandment of No 81 Group and the OTU disbanded on 5 October 1943 when it was redesignated No 2 Combat Training Wing (later changed to No 2 Tactical Exercise Unit).  In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 558 Squadron (and later also as No 563 Squadron) to operate from Turnhouse.

The unit reformed on 12 March 1945, at Hawarden and Poulton (satellite)  in No 12 Group, as a half OTU equipped with Spitfires from the day fighter element of No 41 OTU.  It was increased to full OTU status on 2 April when the main element of 41 OTU moved to Chilbolton.  Flying from Poulton ended on 15 June with all aircraft being concentrated at Hawarden until it disbanded on 20 July 1945.

Officers Commanding: -

 11 Nov 1940                        Gp Capt D V Carnegie

xx Apr 1941                          Gp Capt R L McK Barbour

21 Sep 1941                          Wg Cdr/Gp Capt J H Edwardes-Jones

30 Jan 1942                           Sqn Ldr R A Barton (Temp)

13 Feb 1942                          Gp Capt C Walter

20 Sep 1943                          Gp Capt M Lowe

 5 Oct 1943                           Disbanded

12 Mar 1945                         Gp Capt H V Alloway

22 Mar 1945                        Gp Capt C S Moore

13 May 1945                        Gp Capt E W Whitley

21 Jun 1945                          Wg Cdr P J Simpson

 3 Jul 1945                            Gp Capt L G Burnand

Codes used: -

PQ

Dec 1940 - Oct 1943

P9

Mar 1945 - Jul 1945

Aircraft & Markings


No 59 Operational Training Unit

Personnel were assembled at Turnhouse on 4 December 1940 but the unit did not form until 16 December, initially controlled by No 13 Group, it was transferred to No 81 Group on 31 December with it first aircraft arriving in January 1941.  It eventually moved to its designated station of Crosby-on-Eden on 20 February 1941.  It was intended to be a single seat fighter training unit with its first aircraft arrived in early March and training beginning at the end of the month, with Hurricanes as its main equipment.  A new satellite opened at Longtown on 14 July with 'B' Flight moved there the following day.

At the end of May 1942 the unit began preparations for a move to Milfield in Northumberland, with the move itself beginning in July and ending in early August.  At the same time, the personnel and equipment moved from Longtown to Brunton.  In March the unit received its first Typhoons but it was May before the first course completed their training on the new type in what was designated No 559 Squadron.  This was also the identity the OTU would have adopt in the event of a German invasion (and later also No 564 Squadron) to operate from Newcastle.  In April 1943, with the disbandment of No 81 Group, control passed to No 9 Group and despite being tasked as a Typhoon OTU, the unit found its aircraft being re-allocated to operational squadrons, owing to the the slow delivery rate of new aircraft coming the factories.  On 26 January 1944 it was disbanded by being redesignated the Fighter Leaders School and absorbed Specialised Low Attack Instructor's School at the same time.  During its existence it trained 1.485 pupil pilots and completed 101, 335 hours flying.

The unit reformed at Acklington at half strength on 26 February 1945 to train Typhoon pilots, with Nos 6168 and 6257 Servicing Echelons being returned from the continent to provide the unit's maintenance wing.  The first course arrived on 20 March with training commencing three days later followed by No 2 Course on 10 April but completed their course at the same time as No 1, both leaving on 22 April.  However, these two courses would be the only ones to pass through the unit as it was notified in May that it would disband on 6 June 1945.

Officers Commanding: -

 16 Dec 1940                        Wg Cdr J I T Jones

20 Feb 1941                         Wg Cdr A F Scroggs

26 Feb 1941                         Wg Cdr/Gp Capt F G A Robinson (Gp Capt from 1 Mar)

17 Nov 1941                        Gp Capt C R Keary

15 Jan 1943                          Gp Capt J R Addams

26 Jan 1944                          Redesignated Fighter Leaders School

 6 Mar 1945                          Gp Capt P P Hanks

 8 May 1945                         Wg Cdr G W Petre

Codes used: -

MF

Dec 1940 - xxx 1943

II

Feb 1945 - Jun 1945

7L

Feb 1945 - Jun 1945

4Q

Feb 1945 - Jun 1945

Aircraft & Markings


No 60 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Leconfield on 28 April 1941 within No 81 Group to train night fighter crews for Fighter Command, equipped with Blenheim and Defiants as its main equipment, before moving to East Fortune on 4 June 1941.  A year later it received its first Beaufighters and by July the Defiants had left leaving just the twin engined types.  However, on 24 November 1942, the unit was disbanded with all the aircraft (except the Beaufighters) and personnel were transferred to No 132 OTU, Coastal Command, the Beaufighters going to No 51 OTU.

In October 1942 the night intruder element, No 2 Squadron, of No 51 OTU moved to Twinwood Farm, where it was tasked with providing seven intruder crews per month.  However, in early 1943 the demand was raised to 16 crews per month and the decision was taken to expand night intruder training with No 60 OTU being reformed as a half OTU at High Ercall on 17 May 1943 as a Mosquito equipped unit under the control of No 9 Group, although initially it continued using Blenheims and Havoc.  On 2 July it was notified that it would be raised to full OTU status with an AI Training Wing at Honiley, but reverted to half OTU status in August.  From 19 October 1943 a sub unit was formed at Chedworth from the gunnery flights of No's 60 and 63 OTU, known as No 60/63 Combined Gunnery Squadron.  This arrangement lasted until February 1944 when the individual flights returned to the original bases.  At around the same time it began training crews for the day bomber units of No 2 Group.  Control was transferred to No 12 Group on 15 September 1944 followed by a move to Finmere on 15 March 1945, but on 11 April, the unit was disbanded on being absorbed into No 13 OTU.

Officers Commanding: -

10 Aug 1941                           Gp Capt J Rhys-Jones

24 Nov 1941                          Disbanded

15 May 1943                          Wg Cdr B R O'B Hoare

 7 Jul 1943                              Gp Capt A G Miller

28 Jul 1943                             Wg Cdr B R O'B Hoare

15 Sep 1943                           Sqn Ldr/Wg Cdr N J Starr (Wg Cdr from 25 Sep)

30 Dec 1943                           Gp Capt C D Tomalin

20 Nov 1944                           Gp Capt C S Moore

30 Jan 1945                             Wg Cdr ?

Codes used: -

AT

May 1943 - Apr 1945

8V

May 1943 - Apr 1945

Aircraft & Markings


No 61 Operational Training Unit

This was formed at Heston on 9 June 1941 within No 81 Group to train fighter pilots for Fighter Command using Spitfires and Masters.  Its initial staffing was provided by 50% of No 53 OTU, also located at Heston, including 'A' and 'C' Flights of 53 OTU. No 4 Course of 53 OTU was posted to No 61 on 28 June, when it departed to Llandow, becoming No 1 Course of 61 OTU.  It moved to a new base at Rednal, with Montford Bridge as a satellite, on 15 April 1942, a move which had been delayed from the 8th due to the runways at Montford Bridge having to resurfaced.

With the disbandment of No 81 Group, it was transferred to No 9 Group on 15 April 1943, then to No 12 Group on 15 September 1944.  In October 1943, it operated 'Q' Flight, composed of 9 Gladiators and a Wellington, which were used to make a film depicting the Greek campaign of 1940/41.  In late 1944 the unit began receiving Mustang IIIs and commenced training on these on 3 January 1945, although training on Spitfires continued.  On 17 February a number of German POWs escaped from a camp in Oswestry and the following day one was caught sitting in the cockpit of one of the unit's Mustangs, but he surrendered without a fight and was returned to captivity.  Following VE-Day, it began to receive aircraft from other, disbanding, OTUs and between 16 and 21 June 1945 it moved to Keevil, where it took over the Fighter Reconnaissance Wing of No 41 OTU.  On 19 June the last course on which Allied aircrew undertook training was completed, after which all courses were composed of only RAF personnel.  It disbanded by being redesignated No 203 Advanced Flying School on 1 July 1947.

In the event of a German invasion the OTU would have become No 561 Squadron (and later also No 565 Squadron) to operate from Woodvale.

Officers Commanding: -

13 Jun 1941                           Gp Capt V S Parker (arrived 23 Jun)

13 Jun 1942                           Gp Capt H W Pearson-Rogers

28 Mar 1943                          Gp Capt D O Finlay (posted out 14 Aug 1944)

xx Aug 1944                           Gp Capt K S Brake

24 Feb 1945                           Gp Capt J D Miller

23 Jul 1945                             Gp Capt D M Fleming (posted out on 31 May 1946)

17 Jun 1946                            Gp Capt J D'A Keary

Codes used: -

HX

Jun 1941 - Jul 1947

UU

xxx 1943 - Jul 1947

DE

xxx 1944 - xxx xxxx

KR

xxx xxxx - Jul 1947

TO

xxx 1945 - Jul 1947

Aircraft & Markings


No 62 Operational Training Unit

This was formed on 1 June 1942 under the control of No 81 Group at Usworth from the training flight of No 3 Radio School at Prestwick.  This move was brought about by a need to improve on the training of  Observers (Radio) - Radar operators, using Ansons equipped with AI Mk IV.   Two courses of students (Nos 40 and 41) moved down from Prestwick whilst the first intake to No 62 OTU began training in late June.  The aircraft were operated in pairs with one acting as the target for the other for 1 hours before swapping roles for a further 1 hours.  Unlike other OTUs, many of the staff pilots on the unit were posted in from AFUs (following Beam Approach training) rather then from operational squadrons as an intermediate training stage prior to attending night fight OTUs.  However, the Nav (Rad) instructors were operationally experienced.

Control of the unit passed to No 9 Group on 20 April 1943 and on 21 June the whole of Training Wing and Maintenance Wing moved to Ouston, to be followed by the remainder on 15 July.  The move was necessitated by the fact the Usworth was unable to cater for the expansion of the unit and also due the establishment of a balloon barrage over Sunderland, which was hazardous to flying.  On 23 November 1943 the unit took over RAF Woolsington as a satellite.  'C' Flight was formed on 8 August 1944 from No 1508 Flight to take over responsibility for GEE training, which had begun being taught by the unit in July 1943.  Control passed to No 12 Group on 15 September 1944 and on 6 June 1945 the unit disbanded.

Officers Commanding: -

 1 Jun 1942                           Gp Capt R K Hamblin

12 Dec 1943                         Wg Cdr E G Watkins (Temp)

 5 Jan 1944                           Gp Capt P H Hambly

21 Jul 1944                           Wg Cdr K C Roberts (Temp)

13 Aug 1944                         Gp Capt H S Darley

Aircraft & Markings


No 63 Operational Training Unit

Personnel for this unit were assembled at Honiley on 17 August 1943 but the unit did not form until 7 September.  Controlled by No 9 Group, its task was to train night fighter crews using Beaufighters and Beauforts.  Wellingtons were received in September to act as flying radar classrooms.  Baginton was officially opened as the unit's satellite on 15 October and from 19 October a sub unit was formed at Chedworth from the gunnery flights of No's 60 and 63 OTU, known as No 60/63 Combined Gunnery Squadron.  This arrangement lasted until early 1944 when the individual flights returned to the original bases.    In February 1944 Nos 3 & 4 Courses ceased training as night fighter crews and switched to training as light bomber crews for No 2 Group.  The unit was disbanded on 21 March 1944 with the Wellingtons being passed to No 51 OTU.

Officers Commanding: -

 7 Sep 1943                           Gp Capt A G Miller

31 Dec 1943                          Gp Capt C H Appleton

Codes used: -

HI

Sep 1943 - Mar 1944

Aircraft & Markings


    This page was last updated on 22/02/19

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